One of the things that people find difficult in protecting themselves, their loved ones, and their homes is that they think all home security is unaffordable. Renters think home security is only for homeowners, and homeowners think real home security is only attainable by the wealthy or well-to-do. None of this is true. If you live in a home you can afford at least the basics of home security while you build up to larger, more secure systems. If you rent or live in an apartment, you cannot assume you are safe or that the building is secured and will protect you. Each and every person is responsible for his or her own home security and safety (even if another entity “should” be), and that of anyone depending on them.
Home security starts right here, right now, with these safety basics. Many if not all of these are simple ways that cost little but can mean a huge difference in the security of your home. They are also tactics that you can employ today, or within just a few day’s time. There is no reason to put off home security any longer, and you do not need an appointment to do it!
Don’t Fall Victim to Insecurity Mistakes
Don’t leave yourself open to home invasion, theft, and injury because you made life easy for a criminal. Learning is free, and ensuring that you do not make those mistakes costs you nothing at all. Take some time to protect yourself and what is yours, and pay attention to home and personal security. Be Safe!
A Community of Safety
Home security really starts at the community level. Whenever the choice exists, or any time you relocate, make neighborhood security part of the decision-making process. Do your homework, research factors like crime rate, police and emergency services coverage, access and distance/time away from emergency services, and so on.
However, it is not always possible or practical to move, and no location is entirely free of crime; every neighborhood and every resident needs to take measures to protect themselves and those around them in order to maximize safety and home security. Regardless of where you live, there are steps that you can take on a community level that are very effective in deterring crime in and near your home.
Neighbors who work together enjoy great rates of return on their security success. This costs you nothing at all but a little goodwill and neighborly reciprocity. This can be an informal agreement among neighbors and an awareness built upon letting each other know what is going on. The intention is not to make nosy neighbors of each other, but just to let each other know who does and doesn’t belong around your home, when you may be coming or going, away on vacation, etc. It could also be a more formal arrangement, such as an organized neighborhood watch. Neighborhood watch groups enjoy great success in terms of community security and safety—and who wouldn’t want to live in an area of low crime and mutual compassion?
This brings us to one final point—get to know the law enforcement professionals who are charged with your well-being. This way you not only have an established relationship working for you and a level of comfort making the call, but you also know who you can go to for help, and who may be potentially impersonating your saviors.
The important thing here is to be alert and aware of what is normal so that you can spot what is out of place. Do not be afraid to call the police if you suspect something amiss, or think someone is nosing around your community and doesn’t belong. That’s what the police are there for, and anyone who does really belong will have no reason to be afraid of explaining their presence.
Light Up Your Life
Lighting is easy to install. Most homeowners can do it themselves, or hire someone who can. It is also one of the most important factors in home security. Criminals go for the easy targets, and that means the dark and inconspicuous ones. Make sure that all entry points or points of easy access are well lighted and that their view is not blocked from neighbors and passersby. Criminals do not like to be out in the open when they are breaking into a home.
With that lighting, timing is everything. Just as important as outside lighting and clarity is making it clear that someone is home –even if you’re not. Install timers for when you are away so that there is always a nagging doubt to the would-be invader. Make sure the lighting is randomized so as not to announce the fact that this is a home on a timer and so that it more closely matches your daily routines.
A Clear View
You want the exterior views to your property to be clear enough to make unwanted activity known, but you also need to have a clear view from the inside looking out. That way you can safely see what is going on and determine who is calling. Remember that not all crimes are break-ins—a great many are actually more like “let ins” where a criminal poses as someone else, or somehow gets the resident to naively let him or her in. Never be afraid to ask for identification or even to ask the person to wait while you make a confirmation call. If they are the “Real deal” they should understand and respect your safety; if they do not, report them to the company anyway.
In order for this to succeed you need a safe way to see who is calling. Install a peep hole in your door if you do not have one, especially if there are no other windows or ways to see outside your door. At the very least, have a chained lock on your door so that you can open the door just far enough to answer and investigate. (Really, though, a peephole is much better as the door is easier to force open once the stronger lock and latch is opened.)
A guard dog or watch dog is one inexpensive option, but you need to understand the limitations of it. Guard dogs are considered those who will actually show or perform aggressive acts. That may be more of a liability than it is worth. You also need to consider that a guard dog may not have full-property access, so may be limited in that way.
A “watch dog” is one that is more bark than bite and deters criminals by sheer volume and noise. For many homes, that is a better option. A watch dog has a more acute sense of hearing than a human, so can tip you off sooner than your own senses can. However, do consider that purebred dogs can be costly, as is keeping a dog in general, and good professional training is also expensive. You should make a dog a part of your home security only if it makes sense and you actually want a dog. Be sure to learn about them, know their limitations, and do not simply bring in an aggressive dog for the purpose of home protection—there needs to be thought and consideration involved.
Trim It Back
It costs you nothing to put in a few hours of sweat-equity into your home’s landscape. Spend some time trimming the plants and bushes that hinder essential views, or those that make it easy for criminals to access entry points.
See the Sign
Burglars do not like to take chances breaking into homes that are armed with alarms and theft deterrents; they’d much rather pick the easy target. Even a simple sign (which can be easily purchased for a few dollars) can put enough doubt in a criminal’s mind to make them move along. It’s difficult for a criminal to tell whether or not you really have an alarm system or a vicious guard dog from the outside, and most would rather not take the chance.
Finally, educate your children, too, so that they also know what to be on the lookout for, and more importantly, to keep them safe. Teach them not to give out personal information like their home address, or discuss with strangers who will be around or when, or even seemingly (to children) minor details like when your next vacation is. Make child safety and education a part of your home security and protect your most valuable assets—your kids!!
These are all very simple and free or inexpensive ways to protect your family, your neighborhood, and your home. Start with these basics, and then look to other ways to solidify your home’s security. A formal security system and defenses (alarms, locks…) should be your goal, but you can implement most of these simple steps today and do a lot to secure your home without spending a single cent.